Steve Darrow Recalls Axl Rose’s Embarrassing Alice Cooper Moment


Hollywood Rose bassist Steve Darrow recently spoke to Andrew DiCecco from VWMusic and remembered the day Axl Rose showed up nearly an hour late to an opening show for Alice Cooper.

Before Guns N’ Roses, Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, and Chris Weber initially formed Hollywood Rose in 1983. Steve Darrow also joined them on the stage during live shows to fulfill the bass duties. Yet, the band failed to stay together for long due to the constant lineup changes. However, they set the basis for the massive future success of Guns N’ Roses. The band used several Hollywood Rose songs in some albums they recorded in the later years.

After Guns N’ Roses began its musical journey in 1985, they started to make a name for themselves on the Hollywood club scene by playing in famous bars. It didn’t take long for them to attract the attention of major record labels and eventually sign with Geffen Records in March 1986. Later that year, the band began taking the stage also as the opening acts. In October 1986, they opened for Alice Cooper in his Santa Barbara show, which didn’t go as expected.

Referring to that opening gig, Steve Darrow said in a new interview that it was a fiasco since Axl Rose didn’t appear in time. Thus, their roadie Ronnie and Izzy Stradlin tried to save the show by singing a few songs, yet it was still a pretty embarrassing experience for the band. The band members were asked to get off the stage, so they missed that critical opportunity to propel their careers.

Darrow remembered that everyone assumed that Guns N’ Roses wouldn’t be able to pull themselves together after such a terrible show, in which their lead singer never even took the stage. The bassist thinks they could have recovered from it more quickly if they were in a later stage of their career, but it was a hard-to-find opportunity for them at that moment of their musical journey. Contrary to what was supposed, it wasn’t the end for the band, considering the tremendous success they would reach in the coming years.

Steve Darrow speaking on Guns N’ Roses’ opening for Alice Cooper:

“I saw the 1986 Alice Cooper show in Santa Barbara with GN’R as the opening act. That was a major debacle for them. Axl decided to show up almost an hour late. Later in their career, he could get away with doing stuff like that. But at this point, they were lucky even to be asked to play with somebody like Alice in a big concert hall.

It ended up pretty embarrassing. Axl never even went on stage. Their roadie, Ronnie, came out and tried to sing a few songs, and I think Izzy tried to sing one, but you could tell it was pretty embarrassing for them. They were asked to leave the stage after about only a few songs. Everyone thought that was probably the end for them. But it wasn’t, and they got the last laugh.”

One year after this failing show, Guns N’ Roses released their highly successful debut album, ‘Appetite for Destruction.’ During their extensive tour to support the groundbreaking record, the band again had a chance to open several North American shows for Alice Cooper.